Definition– It is a place where buyers and sellers connect and conduct transactions.
The definition holds true in the online setting as well. For example, GrubHub is a marketplace where diners order food from the local restaurant of their choice. Similarly, Airbnb is a marketplace, where the guests select a short-term accommodation for themselves and the owners rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. The marketplace website acts as a middleman taking care of the payments which makes it convenient for both parties.
For the last decade, the growth in online marketplace businesses does not seem to be slowing down. Business models are constantly evolving. Beyond well-known e-commerce marketplace brands like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Airbnb, Uber or GrubHub, we saw marketplace models disrupting just about every traditional industry. They are selling everything from diapers to second-hand furniture.
E-commerce on the rise
What if we told you that almost half of U.S. households are now Amazon Prime members? You won’t believe me, will you? Well, it’s true. In fact, if Prime was a country, that would make it the world’s 14th largest by population.
In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion USD. Revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion USD in 2021. The reason is fair enough, consumers now see the couch in their living room as a good-enough replacement for their nearest brick-and-mortar store.
Moreover hassle free return policies have made online shopping easy, and risk-free for consumers. With advantages like these, it’s unlikely that marketplace growth will slow down anytime soon.
The demise of brick-and-mortar shops
Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, RadioShack and Toys R Us- What’s common among these retailers which were once household names in the U.S.? All of them announced the closures of their stores, citing one reason or the other. While more than 5,000 stores were shut down in 2017, there have been around 2,000 store closures announced over the past few months.
What lies in the future
The rapid growth in mobile shopping and burgeoning online sales are likely to result in USD 1.1 trillion in spending in China this year. The future of e-commerce definitely looks promising. Once a company enters this online world, there is no turning back.
Whether you’re a single store owner just getting into the game or an e-marketplace owner with multiple vendors selling on your platform, e-commerce is going to give you more than you expected.
How to make your marketplace stand out
The statistics are impressive, but it certainly does not imply that it is going to be a cake walk for every e-marketplace owner out there. You would not want to be just another store waiting to get noticed by the customers who have umpteen choices in front of them. And if there is no customer at your marketplace, how will you convince vendors to open their store at your marketplace? Yes, we are talking about the famous or rather infamous chicken and egg problem.
To have an impact you need innovation and drive so that you have a unique brand that customers want to find. Tweaking your product to make them different for customers, changing how you interact with customers to generally how you do business- All of these could be considered innovative moves if you figure out how to differentiate from your competitors.
Get your priorities straight
With demands rapidly evolving, customer experience should always be your number one priority. Your customers expect shopping to be easy, convenient and targeted.
Try making it easier for them to locate the products they want. Strengthen your relationship with customers by embracing dynamic content, which differentiates your brand from your competitors.
Listen to customers in every way that you can. Conduct surveys, engage on social media platforms, develop a persona, create a customer journey map, or good old-fashioned phone surveys are the perfect ways to learn more and become better.
Advantages of e-Marketplaces
E-marketplaces reduce your marketing costs when compared with other sales channels. They provide greater transparency in the purchasing process since availability, prices and stock levels are accessible to all.
The key appeal of the marketplaces is that it enables a large number of retailers to take advantage of the growing e-commerce market through an infrastructure that’s already established and that’s well trusted by shoppers. So retailers can leverage foreign marketplaces, brands, and strategies to appeal to local markets while minimizing their investment risks before fully committing to other countries.
For example, China’s online marketplace Tmall which is operated by Alibaba supports international brands by offering local warehouse spaces and even consulting services on local trends and culture.
Marketplaces provide a flexible entrance to businesses that are looking to expand internationally while taking relatively small risks.
How to begin?
No coding experience? No problem! Don’t want any technical hurdles? Sure! Just follow these simple steps, and become a proud owner of a multi-vendor marketplace.
Purchase a domain
Get web hosting
Install and activate WooCommerce
Choose a theme of your own choice. (Here’s a list of themes that can be an excellent choice for your marketplace)
Install and activate WC Marketplace
Create Vendor registration form
Configure payment settings
Choose your commission for sales
Add vendors and approve their products
Start selling in your marketplace and earn money.
If you want to have full control over your site and do not want any professional’s help, then WordPress is just the platform you are looking for! As an OPEN-SOURCE content management system, it has the power of hundreds and thousands of minds contributing to the betterment of the platform.
It comes with thousands of plugins, tools, themes, and integrations with plenty of modern online services. Need any particular functionality for our site? You name it, and there will be a plugin for it! Not satisfied with ready-made themes? You can edit and modify any theme in WordPress to your heart’s content.
An added advantage, WordPress is compatible with almost everything present on the world wide web. All these features make it the most preferred ecommerce platform. More than 30% of the top million sites (by traffic), that use a content management system, are powered by WordPress.
WooCommerce today leads the ecommerce market, powering 42% of all Ecommerce sites worldwide. Isn’t that impressive? With that number, it’s way-way ahead of its competitors, the closest being Shopify which powers 7% of all Ecommerce sites.
WooCommerce provides great services, powerful features and it’s easily manageable. It comes with a large variety of customization options that are easy to use.
While WooCommerce adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress site, this amazing WooCommerce plugin called WC Marketplace allows you to set up a site like Amazon or eBay as it allows vendors to create individual stores, manage their inventories and shipping while you can earn commission on their sales.
Unlimited number of vendors can be managed at your store using this plugin. New vendor registration can be approved manually or automatically and can be managed with ease multiple aspects using bulk actions. In addition, you can set commission specific to a product, vendor or globally through the entire site. Payments can be done instantly with the click of a button, or schedule it automatically for a later time. Moreover, the plugin provides a form builder where admins can easily customize forms for the vendors.
The best part about WC Marketplace- It has several features (Eg. ‘Single product Multiple vendors’) in its FREE version, which the other multi-vendor plugins offer only in their premium versions. With over 180 five star rating and 9000+ active installs, it is one of the most popular marketplace plugins in the WordPress community.
In a nutshell
This is the best time to start an online Marketplace if you have picked your niche and have a clear vision on how to proceed further. When the CEO of one of the biggest sportswear brand says that “Our website is the most important store we have in the world”, you know that the time for starting a marketplace is here! Begin carefully, don’t promise or showcase what you can not deliver. Besides the combination of WordPress, WooCommerce, and WC Marketplace, all you need is the correct idea and right motivation. Think of a robust & smart plan & start enlisting vendors!
So what are you waiting for?